Generations

We sacrifice for the next generation. Love for our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews compels us to give what we can to help them thrive. As it should. Life is generational and this palm challenged me to consider the extent of sacrifice made for the next generation.

This species of palm is adapted for tropical forests with thick canopies (unlike the rather open canopy in this particular photo) where sunlight is a vital resource and a little sapling cannot access sunlight. So how does a baby palm tree grow when the light it needs is blocked by the thick canopy of competitors so high above it?

The parent palm solves this problem by sacrificing its own life for the next generation, to open space in the canopy for light to shower through to the forest floor. This palm in the photo is estimated at 9 years of age (they grow very fast when water is available) and has just flowered. It flowers only once in its life, its seeds have fallen and are germinating so now it is beginning to die.

There are over 2000 species of palm and obviously many environments in which they launch the next generation. Some produce the largest seeds on earth (66 pound seeds of the coco de mer palm) to stock their offspring with nutrients. But only a few species race to the canopy, saving up all their flowering energy for a one-time event to flower and then perish for the sake of the next generation. Botanists call this a monocarpic palm and it is both beautiful and true.